Okazaki shines for Leicester
LEICESTER, England (AP):
Shinji Okazaki's overhead kick gave leaders Leicester a 1-0 victory over Rafa Benitez's Newcastle yesterday, a goal as spectacular as his team's improbable Premier League title challenge.
As Leicester restored its five-point lead at the summit over Tottenham with eight games remaining, former Real Madrid and Liverpool coach Benitez made a losing start to his reign as Newcastle manager.
Newcastle are facing relegation, one point from safety, while Leicester are on track for a first-ever league title a year after being bottom of the standings before narrowly avoiding the drop.
"We had to dig in today," Leicester captain, Jamaica international Wes Morgan, told British broadcaster Sky Sports. "It wasn't a pretty game, but the most important thing is we came out with the three points."
Okazaki's fifth goal of the league campaign came from Leicester's only shot on target in the 25th minute. Newcastle failed to clear Riyad Mahrez's free kick, and when Marc Albrighton sent the ball back in, Jamie Vardy headed across for Okazaki to execute the acrobatic finish from six yards.
Leicester, who travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday, have now won 12 games by a one-goal margin this season.